When The Miz, in his inimitably smarmy way, outed Renee Young's relationship with Dean Ambrose on the December 20 episode of SmackDown Live, it was made out to be the revelation of a big secret. But in real life, it's really no secret that Dean and Renee have been dating for the past couple of years. They both admitted it in separate interviews, and even before then, there were myriad photos of Ambrose and Young as a couple that gave it all away — the Lunatic Fringe was, and still is dating one of the prettiest women in WWE today.
While the Dean Ambrose/Renee Young relationship was a secret in WWE canon before The Miz blurted it all out, the secrets in this list were all of the real-life variety, all told by their associates in the wrestling industry in books, shoot interviews, and the like. So are you ready to be shocked by the things professional wrestlers do (or allegedly do) when the cameras aren't on? Read on, as we've got 15 examples for you, together with the names of the people who shared those secrets.
15 BRAY WYATT’S WILD HALLOWEEN PARTY (AS TOLD BY RYBACK)
Since leaving WWE, Ryback has used his podcast, Conversation with the Big Guy, to shoot freely on WWE, the people who made his run with the company difficult, and the people who made that run, well, a rather interesting one. These people include the real-life Windham and Taylor Rotunda, or as we know them on TV, Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas, who hosted a rather wild and decadent Halloween party back in their FCW days.
Just how wild was this party? For starters, you had Derrick Bateman (the future Ethan Carter III) dressed up as Chyna, and Ryback rocking a John Cena get-up. You also had the Big Guy getting so wasted that he ended up telling Bray Wyatt's wife that he loved her — awkward, but not that unusual if you're extremely drunk. But things get fascinating when you consider Ryback’s claim that his bad behavior may have been caused by magic mushrooms – he doesn’t outright say whether they came courtesy of the Rotunda brothers or not, but he’s pretty sure that someone had given him 'shrooms that night.
14 WRESTLEMANIA IX – THE REAL STORY OF HOW HULK SAVED THE DAY (AS TOLD BY BRET HART)
By the time Bret Hart released his autobiography Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling in 2007, it was well-documented that Hulk Hogan was a real chessmaster behind the scenes, ensuring his position as top dog through a variety of power-playing tactics. But few of his political moves were as dastardly as the ones he made ahead of WrestleMania IX.
Bret wrote that Vince McMahon had promised him a long-term run as WWE Champion, but on the day before WrestleMania IX, he got swerved – Vince said he’d have to drop the belt to Yokozuna at the big event. And that’s how it played out, as Bret was “blinded” by the salt thrown by Mr. Fuji, allowing Yoko to pick up the dirty win and win his first WWE Championship. And who’d come out to save the day but Hulk Hogan, running in and demanding to face Yokozuna, much like a Money in the Bank contract winner in present-day, albeit without the briefcase?
Sure enough, the Hulkster “cashed in,” and McMahon’s move to have Hart drop the WWE Championship much sooner than expected was exposed for what it was – a way for Hogan to become champ again.
13 PREACHER JAKE ROBERTS — BIBLE READINGS, BOOZE, AND BABES (AS TOLD BY MICK FOLEY)
By October 1999, the jig was pretty much up for the ostensibly reformed, Bible-preaching Jake “The Snake” Roberts. On the 10th, he had appeared alongside other washed-up ex-WWE guys at the Heroes of Wrestling event and freely preached from the gospel of Jack – Daniel’s, that is. Aside from that now-notorious, alcohol-fueled promo, he was also revealed to be hooked on crack and estranged from his adult daughter on the documentary Beyond the Mat. And, by the end of the month, his debauchery again took center stage, on the pages of Mick Foley’s autobiography, Have a Nice Day.
The official story is that Jake relapsed and went back to his drinking and drugging right before he was fired by WWE in February 1997. But according to Foley, Roberts was relapsing even before that, and was so drunk one night that he ended up peeing between the beds in a hotel room they shared. Roberts even claimed to have received “$1,500 a shot, plus gimmicks” for his preaching gigs, and one need not think long and hard to figure out that “gimmicks” is code for “groupies.”
Mick probably said it best in his book — before he finally got clean, Jake Roberts was "a strange mixture of a hell of a guy and Satan."
12 WWE’S MALE TALENTS “EAT SOMAS LIKE CANDY” (AS TOLD BY TERRI RUNNELS)
In the summer of 2007, the WWE and its fans were dealing with the tragic Chris Benoit murder-suicide, and a series of reports was alleging several top WWE talents of steroid abuse. But it wasn’t just steroids the “boys” of WWE were abusing back in the day, according to former WWE Diva Terri Runnels. Goldust’s ex-wife spoke to TMZ in July of that year to claim that “the boys eat Somas like candy,” implying that a lot of WWE Superstars, or at least the ones active during her stint with the company, took copious amounts of the muscle relaxant.
While Runnels didn’t name any names in her interview, she did tell a story about a wrestler who had almost died in front of her after he had consumed 13 Somas. Worse, this wrestler was “still behind the wheel of his car” at the time the incident happened. Terri’s comments promoted an almost-immediate statement from WWE, defending its then-recently instituted Wellness Policy.
11 STU HART’S CULLINARY QUIRKS (AS TOLD BY MULTIPLE WRESTLERS)
The late Stu Hart is respected across the wrestling industry as the man who trained many a future wrestling legend, including his own sons Bret and Owen, just to name a few. But if Dynamite Kid and Terry Funk are to be believed, a brutal stretching session at the Dungeon may have been preferable to breakfast at the Hart dining table.
Dynamite Kid is one of many wrestlers who have claimed that Stu would use the same spatula to cook eggs and scoop up cat poop, and it bears mentioning that Dynamite did mention that in his autobiography. Funk, on the other hand, made a claim in his own autobiography More Than Just Hardcore that he was once eating breakfast in Hart House and didn’t believe the cat poop rumors until he took a sip from his coffee, which had a “big booger, right in the middle of (one) side of the cup.” Ew. Funk also claims Stu loved his cats so much that he let them lay on the salad bowl, even when it was actually filled with salad.
10 SANDMAN’S NEAR-FATAL OD (AS TOLD BY TOMMY DREAMER)
It happened in the 1980s to Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx and in the mid-1990s to Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo – two hard-living rock stars who were legally dead after overdosing on heroin, but managed to cheat death with the help of adrenaline shots. The Sandman was a wrestler who partied like a rock star and lived his gimmick and then some, but few knew the extent of his drug abuse in his ECW days until Tommy Dreamer’s shoot interview on Steve Austin’s podcast from 2014.
Dreamer recalled the time when Rhyno came to him with the bad news that Sandman had fatally overdosed on Nubain, which, of course, had shocked the Innovator of Violence, thinking that one of his closest buddies was dead. But, as Rhyno related, they were able to get the drugs out of their car and drive him to a hospital, where he was given shots of adrenaline and successfully revived. Miraculously, Sandman was able to wrestle that night, with the fans none the wiser that he was fresh off a near-fatal overdose. (I mean, come on, the guy entered the ring smoking cigarettes and drinking beers!)
9 WWE HALL OF FAMER GETS RACIST WHEN DRUNK (AS TOLD BY JTG)
For all its grammatical errors, JTG’s Damn! Why Did I Write This Book? series makes for some really entertaining reading. And while the guy whose being “still employed” by WWE became a running joke until his release in 2014 doesn’t do namedropping, what he does drop are clues, making it fairly easy to guess the names of a lot of guys he dishes the dirt on.
On Damn! Why Did I Write This Book Too?, JTG tells the story of an incident from 2006 where a current WWE Hall of Famer who was at a bar with his then-wife drunkenly yelled some racist comments at him, suggesting that the wrestling business should have never accepted African-Americans to begin with. JTG had first guessed that he was referring to rookies from developmental, but when said Hall of Famer had let loose with a second, similarly drunken rant at JTG, that was enough for “Mr. Cryme Tyme” to stop denying that the man whom he had once respected was a racist.
Again, namedropping isn't JTG's style, but he did say that the alleged racist is well-known for his catchphrase. Most who heard or read the story believe that catchphrase is a one-syllable exclamation that rhymes with "do" and "boo," so we'll just leave that out there.
8 CHRIS BENOIT, BACKSTAGE BULLY (AS TOLD BY PALMER CANON)
The name Palmer Canon may not ring a bell, but back in 2005, he debuted in WWE as a heel network executive, and was hoping to make his in-ring debut at some point in 2006 – he had previously wrestled in the indies, and at a muscular 6’4”-260, he had a good, Vince McMahon-friendly look. But that never came to pass, as Canon had, as the saying goes, gotten the hell out of Dodge, flying back home to the U.S. while the SmackDown roster was in the middle of a European tour.
The reason? As he eventually admitted, Canon was the recipient of some brutal bullying via Wrestler’s Court by JBL (surprise, surprise) and Chris Benoit. We won’t go into depth about JBL (he features in another entry here), but the involvement of Benoit was a bit of a surprise for those who knew him as a strong, silent type. Unfortunately, wrestling fans would get a clearer idea of the demons Benoit was dealing with just a little more than a year later.
7 OWEN HART NEVER APOLOGIZED FOR THAT PILEDRIVER AT SUMMERSLAM (AS TOLD BY STEVE AUSTIN)
Nowadays, when people talk about Owen Hart, they talk about how he didn’t have the ego problems big brother Bret may have had, how he was popular in the locker room and on the road, and how he loved ribbing his co-workers, albeit in a non-malicious (read: non-British Bulldogs/JBL) kind of way. But “Stone Cold” Steve Austin told of another side to the Rocket, writing in his autobiography The Stone Cold Truth that Owen never apologized for inflicting was then a career-threatening injury at SummerSlam 1997.
According to Austin, Owen didn’t just not apologize for the botched sitout piledriver that broke his neck at SummerSlam. He didn’t call or visit as Austin recovered from his injury, and that may be the reason the Texas Rattlesnake was nowhere in sight at Owen’s funeral in 1999. Again, Owen is no longer around to give his side of the story, but it goes without saying that if you accidentally injure someone in the ring, there's got to be some kind of attempt to show remorse.
6 6. P.S. DROPS THE N-WORD (AS TOLD BY MARK HENRY)
JTG may have been averse to naming names in his locker room dirt-rich books, but Mark Henry was one African-American wrestler who wasn’t afraid to identify drunken wrestling legends and report them for their racist behavior. Back in 2008, at the WrestleMania 24 after-party, Henry was having a conversation with then-SmackDown head writer Michael “P.S.” Hayes, who had supposedly told him that he’s “more of a n-----“ than he is.
Instead of inducting the Freebirds legend into the Hall of Pain, Henry reacted by reporting P.S. to human resources, and that led to Hayes serving a 60-day suspension without pay and losing his executive position as one of WWE’s vice presidents. Despite all that, Hayes remains gainfully employed by WWE, and had made it to the company’s Hall of Fame earlier this year, alongside the rest of the Fabulous Freebirds. The WWE sure does love Michael Hayes.
5 THE REAL “SUNNY DAYS” (AS TOLD BY TAMMY SYTCH)
Yes, I’ve covered this quite a lot, mainly because it's one of Shawn Michaels' most notorious promos – his claim that Bret Hart was having his share of “Sunny Days.”
Hart has admitted in his autobiography that he wasn’t much into drugs or booze as a lot of his peers were – his main vice as a wrestler was women, and he did have many an affair while married to his first wife Julie. But none of those affairs were with Sunny, a.k.a. Tammy Sytch in real life, who admitted many years later that she had a months-long affair with Michaels. That was despite the fact that Sytch was still dating Chris “Skip” Candido, and despite rumors that she and Candido were both the target of some cruel ribs from the Kliq, e.g. one of them literally taking a crap on Sunny’s dinner.
All told, this was an obvious case of HBK trying to deflect rumors of the affair by passing the blame on to his then-mortal enemy Bret.
4 KELLY KELLY GETS AROUND (AS TOLD BY RANDY ORTON)
A lot of the secrets in this list were told by wrestlers who were no longer working alongside the people they spilled the beans on. But Randy Orton was still working in the same company as Kelly Kelly in 2011 when he alleged on a radio interview that the much-maligned women’s wrestler had slept with a whole lot of male Superstars on the roster. Making things worse for Kelly was how Orton and the hosts had made a game out of guessing who those guys were, and he was, just as expected, criticized by many a fan and wrestling journalist for slut-shaming.
One day after the interview, Orton took to Twitter to apologize for “putting his foot in his mouth,” though as you may have probably noted, this wasn’t the first time the Viper had allegedly, or actually done something disrespectful to the women of WWE. Years before the Kelly Kelly incident, Orton was rumored to have taken a dump in a female wrestler’s gym bag, and poured baby oil over the bag of another.
3 HASSLES, INFIDELITY, AND DISRESPECT (AS TOLD BY KENN DOANE)
Behind that squeaky-clean, heroic image, rumors suggest John Cena isn’t exactly the kind of man you’d want your sons to emulate when it comes to staying faithful to your partner. It’s been suggested that Cena, when he was married to his high school sweetheart, fooled around quite a lot while on the road. But his highest-profile affair wasn’t with a “ring rat,” but rather with another wrestler – Mickie James, who was, at that time, dating Kenny Dykstra, a.k.a. Kenny of the Spirit Squad, a.k.a. Kenn Doane in real life.
According to Doane, he had discovered that James was cheating on him with Cena when he caught her Googling the term “Mickie James and John Cena dating.” That effectively ended their relationship, and when Cena’s then-wife had heard about the affair, that had also ended what had been a three-year marriage. But no one appeared angrier than Spirit Squad Kenny, as Doane has gone on repeated Twitter rants about the Cena/Mickie affair, even going as far as saying he “feels bad” for James’ current husband Nick "Magnus" Aldis, calling him a "nice guy who's dating a...well, you know."
Just think how awkward the SmackDown Live locker room (which features Cena, and on occasion, Kenny) would be in January, should James indeed be signed to the blue brand when she makes her WWE return.
2 THE CHICKEN INCIDENT AND MORE JBL BULLYING (AS TOLD BY THE MIZ)
In more than a decade with the WWE, The Miz has achieved a lot. He’s reigned as WWE Champion once, won several midcard titles, including the Intercontinental belt he currently holds, and he’s married to Maryse, who is, as she was in her initial run with the company, one of the hottest women in pro wrestling. Life is awesome for The Miz, but back when he was a green rookie best known for his stints on The Real World and Tough Enough, he was right at the bottom of the food chain, even for a newcomer.
The Miz has spoken publicly about how he was severely bullied when he made his main roster debut in 2006. Not surprisingly, John Bradshaw Layfield led his fellow veterans in bullying The Miz, and had taken part in a few notable incidents himself, including physically ejecting Miz from the locker room just for eating chicken near a gym bag, and publicly humiliating him for not being too polished in the ring.
The aftermath? As far as we know, JBL has remained unapologetic about those incidents, maintaining that he hazed rookies to toughen them up. And The Miz persevered to become the “Most Must-See Superstar” he is today.
1 THEY FIRED ME ON MY WEDDING DAY (AS TOLD BY CM PUNK)
It’s like your girlfriend dumping you on your birthday for reasons that are vague at best – nobody wants to get sacked from their job on their wedding day. That’s what had happened to CM Punk, as he admitted on what is arguably the mother of all recent shoot interviews, his November 2014 appearance on Colt Cabana’s The Art of Wrestling.
As an earlier article from TheSportster had illustrated, Punk and Triple H had never gotten along famously, with Hunter allegedly trying to bury him on every possible occasion – ah, yes, that metaphorical shovel once again. But nothing adds salt to the wounds than what Triple H and father-in-law Vince McMahon supposedly did, which was to fire Punk on the day of his wedding to AJ Lee. That is the burn of all burns, and even if Punk may have walked out of WWE with the intent of never returning, he claims no one from WWE contacted him when his two-month suspension ended in March 2014.
Then he was fired on his wedding day. That makes getting fired via FedEx (as Eric Bischoff did to Steve Austin) look like being told your boss just gave you a raise.